While business leaders across the nation voice their difficulties in finding highly-skilled employees, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters is closing the skills gap through a program that connects youth with skilled mentors and, oftentimes, rewarding careers.
For years, Teamsters in Stratford, Connecticut, saw a need to connect students in the community to area businesses trying to fill job vacancies. The Sikorsky Corporation, a helicopter plant, was among these businesses. High recruitment costs and other barriers kept the plant from hiring qualified workers. Sikorsky partnered with the local Teamsters group to form the Teamsters/Sikorsky Career Pathways Mentoring Program, a pipeline for students into manufacturing positions.
Through the program, students are selected from eleven area high schools to participate in an eight-week summer internship that provides hands-on work experience facilitated by Teamster mentors. The highly-competitive program only draws from applicants who are enrolled in a Career Technical Education (CTE) program at school.
For the Sikorsky Corporation, the mentorship program provides a new source of skilled workers with fewer recruitment and retention costs. When interns are hired as full-time employees, they require less training and already have work experience and knowledge of the business.
Student interns benefit as well, earning an average of $15 to $17 per hour. For many students, the Career Pathways program has led to a full-time job at Sikorsky. According to one area Teamster, “We brought this program to the company years ago in an effort to promote the advantages of unionized work and to get that message to young people. What we didn’t anticipate at the time was the personal impact the program would have on the students and the mentors who have participated.”
An article in this month’s Teamster magazine, “A Milestone in Youth Development: Career Pathways Mentoring Program Celebrates 10 Years of Excellence,” highlights this successful program. Read more on the program’s website.
Kara Herbertson, Education Policy Analyst